The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), is a State law that requires the County to evaluate and disclose the environmental impacts of proposed projects and to reduce those impacts to the extent feasible. Certain projects may qualify for an exemption from this environmental review requirement; others may require the preparation of an environmental report and a public process before a decision maker can approve a proposed project. Categorical and statutory exemptions can be found in Articles 18 and 19 of the CEQA Guidelines.
Projects That May Affect a Structure That Is 50 Years or Older
For projects affecting a structure that is 50 years or older, a historical report is required pursuant to CEQA Guidelines Section 15064.5, to determine the structure’s historical significance. If a project may cause a substantial adverse change in the significance of a historical resource, analysis of the project’s potential impact to the resource will be required, and the project will not qualify for most CEQA exemptions. For more information and guidance, please see the County’s Historical Evaluation Report.
Projects That Are Not Exempt From CEQA
Completion of the Initial Study Checklist is required for all projects that are not exempt from CEQA. For projects that are not exempt from CEQA, Planning staff will complete the checklist as a part of staff’s preparation of the Negative Declaration, Mitigated Negative Declaration, or Environmental Impact Report for the project. The applicant is required to provide all documents and reports needed to complete the checklist, including the following:
- Climate Beneficial Actions by Project Developers Form: For projects subject to CEQA, the County Planning and Building Department requires applicants to complete this form to identify project-initiated climate actions to offset project-generated Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions that contribute to climate change. Except where specified, Planning staff will confirm that the form is completed with actions identified by the applicant at the time of the preparation of the project CEQA document (e.g., Negative Declaration, Mitigated Negative Declaration, or Environmental Impact Report) and will confirm action implementation (as shown in the published CEQA document for the project) at the time of building permit application and prior to the final approval of the project's building permit. The County's Office of Sustainability offers programs and referrals to incentivize and support listed climate actions.
Additional Items that may be required, as determined by Planning staff based on project review, include but are not limited to the following:
- Geotechnical Report
- Archeological Report*
- Biological Report
- Arborist Report
* Pursuant to Public Resources Code Section 21080.3.1, Planning staff will complete tribal consultation for projects requiring a Negative Declaration, Mitigated Negative Declaration, or Environmental Impact Report.